Global Risk

Air-launched Ballistic Missiles

11.07.19 | 1 min read | Text by Adam Mount & Eugene Saad

In 2018, Russia and China both tested an uncommon type of missile that flew a ballistic trajectory but could be launched from an aircraft. Air-launched ballistic missiles (ALBM) are just one curiosity at a time when many countries are rapidly expanding and upgrading their missile inventories, but the tests raised some understandable questions: Is this a new capability? If a country has ground- and sea-launched ballistic missiles, or air-launched cruise missiles, why does it need an ALBM? What is it for?

Examining the phenomenon of air-launched ballistic missiles provides insight into not only the planning of the countries developing these systems, but also the diversity and complexity of missile systems.

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